New Honda Hybrids 2010

The electronics in the control system let Honda offer what it calls the Eco Assist system, which tells the driver how economically she’s driving by changing the background color of the speedometer. Green means good, blue means you’re a lead-foot. There’s an ECON mode that enhances fuel economy further by resetting the control logic, so the car accelerates more slowly and backs off the gas engine quicker.

The dashboard EcoGuide accumulates data on driving patterns, so hypermiling drivers can analyze their history to improve driving strategies. Honda even shows up to five green leaves in the display—similar to graphics in the Ford Fusion Hybrid—to reward drivers who display the most economical behavior over time.

Squeezing more out of less, the Insight’s electric motor not only moves the car away from rest after the engine has shut down, it can also power the car by itself "when driving on a flat surface at steady speed in the low 30 mph range," according to Honda.

Honda has worked hard to keep weight down, so the Insight—at 14 feet, 4 inches long—weighs just 2,720 pounds despite the usual complement of airbags, consumer electronics, other “comfort and convenience features”—and that heavy battery pack. Overall, Honda claims the Insight’s IMA system is 19 percent smaller and 28 percent lighter than the previous generation used in the current Honda Civic Hybrid.

And minimalism can produce maximal results. The Honda Insight is rated at 40 miles per gallon on the city cycle, and 43 mpg on the highway, for a combined mileage of 41 miles per gallon.

New Honda Hybrids
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